“Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.”
— Elizabeth Lesser
There’s been a lot of talk of the “new normal” in the past few months as the world navigates the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s undeniable that how we live, work, play, shop and even sell will have to look different, for who knows how long. No matter your industry or background, we are all asking ourselves a question that goes far beyond the bottom line and gets at the heart of humanity: How can we acknowledge and respect all the pain, trauma, fear and loss of these times, but still do our best to go on — to celebrate and honor all the good that we are more grateful than ever to have?
For those in marketing or at the helm of a business, this question often leads to another: How can we add more compassion and empathy into our work to make a difference, and innovate our strategies to reflect this new normal? As we all navigate uncharted territory together, some answers are emerging.
What are audiences looking for?
It’s true that compassion is not the first thing that springs to mind when most think of marketing. But it’s also true that: 1) The world needs more of that compassion than ever, and 2) All of us must do what we can. This is the time for us to lean into empathy and connection. In the case of small businesses and marketers, that means using your platform to help. Selling will no longer be at the forefront. People will still need goods and services —
but more than that, they will need kindness, understanding and information.
The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic sheds some light on four of the most important things people are looking for from companies in times like these.
- Show up and do your part. All of us struggle with feeling helpless right now, so just showing up in whatever capacity you can is so effective. Brands and businesses typically have a broader reach than just one person, so use your unique platform and resources to make a difference and to amplify the voices of others looking to do the same.
- Don’t act alone. As we all work to do our part by staying apart, new ways of being connected are coming to the forefront. Joining forces with partners can widen your reach and make a bigger impact.
- Solve, don’t sell. Now is not the time to push products. Now is the time to connect, build trust and lend a hand. You still offer value to your audience, but it will look a bit different. It might be information shared on your website or making resources available or accessible to those in need. Acknowledging that we all must work together and offering up your unique strengths is a powerful act of compassion.
- Communicate with awareness, compassion and facts. Focus on awareness, responsibility and mindfulness — not panic. Keep that in mind when sharing information with your audience.
Compassion in Action
There are countless examples of how companies have pivoted toward compassion over the course of this year. Here are some of our favorites:
Do Your Part: In April 2020, the Walt Disney Company announced it would be selling its own face masks with some favorite characters on them, with all profits from the sales through September 30 going to MedShare, a nonprofit that redistributes surplus medical supplies and equipment to hospitals in developing countries. Disney also announced it would donate 1 million masks to children and families in vulnerable communities across the United States.
Don’t Act Alone: Orlando-based self-driving shuttle provider Beep partnered with Park Pizza & Brewing Company in Lake Nona to donate and deliver lunch to healthcare workers at the Orlando VA Medical Center operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Mobilizing our team and partnerships in any way we can to support our communities is necessary in this time of need,” CEO Joe Moye said in a press release.
Solve, Don’t Sell: With more people working and learning from home, technology and entertainment company Comcast made its Xfinity WiFi network free to everyone and gave all customers unlimited free data for 60 days. Its Internet Essentials program, which services low-income families, allowed new customers to access to the program for free for 60 days.
Communicate: Community Health Centers of Central Florida has consistently updated its website with national and local news, resources for its patients, and tips for taking care of mental and physical health.
This is a strange time, to say the least. As we all adapt, the trend in every sector seems to be one of mindfulness, kindness and togetherness. Keeping that in mind when planning your campaigns can not only make a difference for the world, it can help you and your team feel a little less helpless and a little more hopeful. And when these hard times pass, we will all remember — and hopefully maintain — the compassion that saw us through.